We have received the following update from HMRC regarding their Income Tax Self-Assessment repayment claim verification letters (‘SURF’ letters). (For more details of these letters see our earlier news item from March 2021.)
"Earlier this year we advised that we have significantly increased resource onto Income Tax Self-Assessment repayment checks to reduce delays in genuine customers receiving tax refunds.
"This update is to let you know that we have worked through all the post where needed to complete the verification process. We completed this by the end of November and are now up to date in handling ITSA repayment post. Going forward, customers should expect to receive a reply to post received within 30 days. Thank you for your patience and understanding as we have worked through our post arrears.
"However, as we have done this, we have identified a minority of cases where customers have confirmed their identity satisfactorily but where we have found issues regarding one or more aspects of their return. We are working through these as quickly as possible to make any corrections required, which may either reduce the repayment or mean that the customer may owe us some tax.
"We have issued a holding letter to all those affected (copying in their agent where applicable), committing to write again this month with any issues we have identified. While we appreciate this may be a source of further frustration to those affected, the volume of returns and verification correspondence we have had to process has meant that it has only been possible to identify and respond to the remaining issues now. I am sorry for this further delay. We are working through all these cases at pace and hope to have this process finished shortly, and certainly by the end of December.
"A clear note with the latest position has been made on the customer record in case they contact one of our helplines. We are asking customers not to contact us regarding this matter, however, until they have received the outcome of our review. This will allow us to concentrate on following through on our commitment to write again quickly with our findings. But if a customer genuinely needs extra support, then they can contact our helpline in the usual way. We have also updated our Customer Services Group colleagues who answer customer calls with our latest timescales for handling post.
"Recognising the issues you have brought to us, we are undertaking further evaluation of our risk targeting and processes in this area, with an aim to continue to streamline the journey for customers awaiting Income Tax Self-Assessment repayments. We will of course continue to keep you updated of improvements we are able to make. "